As published by the Whitehorse Star on January 21, 2019
On Jan. 14, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shuffled his cabinet in the wake of Treasury Board president Scott Brison’s resignation.
The timing of Brison’s departure is seen by many as a move to distance the Trudeau Liberals from the pending trial of Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, charged with leaking cabinet secrets, in which it is expected that defence lawyers will call Brison to testify on his central role in the scandal.
To accommodate Brison’s vacancy, the prime minister has shuffled three veteran ministers and promoted two new additions from his caucus back benches.
Despite having served the better part of the last 20 years in Ottawa, Yukon’s five-term Liberal Member of Parliament, Larry Bagnell, was passed over for a seat at the cabinet table.
When the Liberals won all three territorial seats in the 2015 election, northerners’ hopes for senior representation in the Liberal government were briefly realized when Trudeau tapped Nunavut MP Hunter Tootoo for a cabinet portfolio.
However, he was soon forced to resign only six months later following a scandal of his own.
Since Tootoo’s departure, it would appear that a perspective from the Yukon, N.W.T. and/or Nunavut is not on this prime minister’s priority list.
This latest shuffle is just the most recent foregone opportunity to ensure representation of 40 per cent of our country’s land mass in government decisions.
This in stark contrast to the previous successive Conservative governments, where a northerner was always at the cabinet table.
Conservatives believe northerners should make decisions about the North.
Delegates at the Conservative Party’s national convention in August 2018 overwhelmingly voted in favour that a Conservative government will allow the three territories, like the provinces, to retain 100 per cent of their respective resource royalties.
Northerners, not Ottawa, know how to best invest and manage our natural wealth.
Yet unfortunately, for the time being, with this latest snub denying a territorial MP at the cabinet table, it seems that once again Trudeau has left the North out in the cold.
Jonas J. Smith
Conservative Party of
Canada Candidate –Yukon